Meatless Monday: Argentinian style Empanadas

I try to see the best in every season.  I love bird watching in the winter - when the trees have shed their leaves, you get better views of the birds.  I love going to to the woods with a bag of wild bird food.  No sooner is the food on a fence post than you hear the message being 'tweeted' out and soon it is 'raining' birds.  Even so, in the northern hemisphere January is thought of as the armpit of the year - the Christmas activities are behind us and spring feels a long way off.  I think this is why people plan their holidays in January.  

We can whisk ourselves off to warmer climes through our food and this week we are making empanadas which hail from Latin American countries and are often sold as a street food.  

Empanadas are baked, stuffed pastries. I tried making these initially with gluten free flour and although the result was declared 'delicious' by my long suffering family (who eat my 'failures' as well as successes) they were crumbly and you would not be able to pick them up to eat.  For my second attempt therefore I used regular flour and the result was much better. The apple cider vinegar stops the gluten strands becoming too long resulting in a tougher pastry- also do not knead too much.   Here is the final recipe.

Argentinian style empanadas

Makes 4-6

You will need

For the dough

450g flour
2 tsp baking powder
120g dairy free spread
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
200ml water (approx)

For the filling

120g dried soya mince
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp salt
100g chestnut mushrooms
100g tomato puree
pinch stevia
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli

Place the soya mince in a bowl and cover with boiling water.   

Meanwhile make the dough.  Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and add the dairy free spread in small pieces.  Rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs then add the vinegar and water until the mixture forms a dough.  Cover with cling film and place in the fridge while you make the filling.

To make the filling, heat the oil and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add the soy mince, salt, chilli, smoked paprika, tomato puree and a little extra water.  Cook for 10 minutes, adding a little water if necessary.  Leave to cool.

Roll out the dough to around 1/8 inch thick and cut into 8 inch circles.  Place some of the filling on one half of each circle and fold the dough in two.  Seal the edges with a fork and transfer to a baking tray. Make a tiny slit in the pastry. Bake at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  

Enjoy as they are or with a salad.

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